Monday, May 18, 2015

If Y is for Yellow, then J is for Jaune, er, Jane

Top: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Venus
Bag: Target
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

 Lock it Up, Love Necklace

Top: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Target
Shoes: a. n. a., J. C. Penney's
Bag: Marshalls
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: Merona, Target
Skirt: eric & lani, Macy's
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Marshalls
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Yellow is one of my favorite colors.  Sunny, happy, and vibrant, it sets any scene or ensemble ablaze.  So, as spring ripens into summer, I'm always glad to see it take center stage.  Just like I'm glad to be painting my toenails after months of hibernating in closed-toe clodhoppers, taking walks without a jacket, and ordering ice cream instead of hot chocolate.  But amidst all these warm weather welcomes skulks the bittersweet threat of good-bye.  That's right, I'm talking about TV series season finales -- finales that, more often than not, leave us teetering on the edge of gut-wrenching cliffhangers.

Of all the shows I watch, the one dangling upon the most precarious precipice is "Jane the Virgin."  As soon as I tuned in to this CW freshman dramedy, I was hooked.  A kind of cerebral soap opera that pokes fun at itself through the wry observations (and captions -- no multi-tasking while watching this one!) of a world-weary narrator, this Miami-based, more-than-a-melodrama lauds and lampoons the telenovela genre, delivering intrigue and heart through an impressive network of original plot lines, the, ahem, mother of which is Jane's accidental pregnancy via artificial insemination.  Jane's virginity complicates an already surreal situation, challenging her relationship with fiance (and local detective) Michael while tossing her into the maelstrom of madness that is the Solano family.  For, the father of Jane's little miracle is married former playboy and Marbella Hotel heir Rafael Solano, who just happens to be, in a telenovela-worthy twist, her boss.  But at an exceptionally grown-up twenty-three, Jane is level-headed enough to handle it all with grace, humor, and a sense of adventure.  And why not?  She's got the live-in emotional support of fiery, aspiring singer mom Xiomara and straitlaced but sweet grandmom Alba, not to mention a sure-thing future as a teacher.

But then things begin to unravel.  Jane discovers that the father she never knew is the purple suit-clad, obliviously vain (and hilarious!) star of her favorite telenovela.  She forges an unlikely friendship with Rafael.  And she turns down a teaching job to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.  What's more, weird stuff starts happening at the Marbella, casting suspicion upon the entire Solano family, a development that conveniently requires the services of one Detective Michael Cordero.

Employing a well-rounded arsenal of satire, flashbacks, dream sequences, and eye-catching outfits, "Jane the Virgin" is the everything bagel of the TV breakfast buffet (even though I hate bagels).  It's at the same time dazzling and deep, smart yet surprisingly poignant.  Which is why, I suppose, the season finale packed such a punch.

So what, pray tell, was the shocker?  For once, I'm not going to say.  I'm going to practice restraint and retain some mystery.  Not that the answer isn't lurking in about a zillion other internet outlets or in your very own memory given the show's popularity (that, and the finale aired a whole week ago).

Speaking of which, I recently caught Golden Globe winner Jane, or rather, Gina Rodriguez, on "Access Hollywood" or "Entertainment Tonight" or one of those shows being interviewed about her skyrocketing stardom.  "How does it feel to know that you can buy those shoes?" archly asked the reporter, no doubt referencing Louboutins or some such seemingly hallowed brand.  Gina looked baffled before offering a very Jane-like response: "Uh, I gave some money to my grandmother?"  Now, I like shoes as much as the next girl, but I thought that this was as good and genuine an answer as any.

Alba would be proud.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Keep Calm and Call Your Mom and Start a Lip Balm Collection

Sometimes, when life gets you down, there's nothing for it but to ring your mom and buy yourself a small something.  Or, better yet, buy your mom a small something, especially if that something is flowers.  And what better day to do so than Mother's Day?  So, no necklaces this week, just flowers and fun stuff.

Above are some blooms from Bucks County, PA; below are Brigantine's own cherry blossoms.  

And now for the fun stuff.  Maybe three balms do not a collection make, but then again, I think three unopened balms are two balms too many.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Critters Behind the Curtain and High Time for New Heels

Tank: Wet Seal
Skirt: Kohl's
Black T-straps: Payless
Lilac pumps: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Nine West, Marshalls
Belt: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's

Dress: Lulu's
Camisole: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: J. C. Penney's
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Michaels

 Boho Beetle Necklace

Tee: So, Kohl's
Caftan: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: So, Kohl's
Flip flops: Candie's, Kohl's
Bag: Gifted
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's

Top: Wet Seal
Skirt: Macy's
Shoes: Guess, Marshalls
Bag: Nine West, Boscov's
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's

Tee: Merona, Target
Skirt: Candie's, Kohl's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Target
Belt: Izod, Marshalls
Sunglasses: Michaels

I always think it's weird when dangerous animals are featured as cute, cuddly cartoons.  You know, like the Pink Panther, Tony the Tiger, and even, regrettably, Toucan Sam.  Take the parrot in this Bird Buddies Necklace.  Pretty or not, those things will peck your eyes out. Ditto for spiders (which, although not cuddly, possess a certain dark glamour), only with venomous bites.  Not to mention unicorns.  Sure, they're aren't real, but if they were I think they'd probably be ornery.  Maybe that's why people are always putting all of these critters in ads and on trinkets: they're looking for a way to tame them.

But enough wild kingdom pop psych; let's move on to wardrobe.

This week's looks have a 1950s/1980s vibe (how is it that I've only now noticed the similarities of the aesthetics of those two eras?) except for the renegade caftan, which is pure 1970s.  (Because there's always something celebratory about a caftan, I let it slide.)  Outfit number one is the best example of the hybrid decades thing in this lot, what with the ladylike clutch and the polka dots, and I was in the midst of photographing it when my new lilac Chinese Laundry pumps from DSW arrived on my doorstep.  Despite having spent the better part of my morning snapping away to get just the right angles, I immediately tossed my trusty Payless black patent leather (okay, plastic) T-straps aside in favor of the newcomers.  Partly because I'm a perfectionist, partly because in my illustrious career of shoe collecting, I've never had a pair precisely that shade.  Normally, I'm not one for revealing how the sausage is made, but my excitement got the best of me and I ended up posting the before and after shots.  You'll notice that I took the opportunity to add a pink backdrop, too (perfectionism, will your plague never end?).   

Finally, on an unrelated note, I recently bought a yellow and white polka dot shower curtain on clearance at Bed, Bath & Beyond as a quirky companion to my new fish-print window valance even though it was cotton.  As you may already know, I hate cotton, despite its many commercials, and have long maintained that fade-free, wrinkle-resistant polyester is the fabric of my life.  Anyway, I had the husband hang it without considering that I needed to iron it first.  It was, of course, a wrinkled mess.  "It'll shake out," the husband said, with all the confidence of a man who has never done battle with creases borne of manufacturer packaging.  So I took it down and hauled out the iron only to discover a fortuitously non-cotton, fish print shower curtain that had been hiding out in our linen closet for the last seven years.  At the time we'd already had (another) fish-print shower curtain and ambitiously thought that we'd use the spare to make window curtains.  Needless to say, we didn't, never even giving curtains a thought until just last week.  Which just goes to show that what you're looking for is usually right in front of you -- and also that laziness has its rewards.  Still, the polka dots are nice.  I won't post them, though -- publishing photos of one's bathroom goes beyond the bounds of good taste, even for me.  So, I'll share this shot of my new(ish) laundry room curtains instead:      

As far as I know, there are no wild animals lurking behind them, save for one intrepid, trash-picking squirrel.  And to think that on "Rocky and Bullwinkle" the squirrel wasn't even the villain.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I Can Bead a Rainbow

Top: Material Girl, Macy's
Skirt: Modcloth
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Gifted
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk

Tee: Marshalls
Skirt: Marshalls
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Marshalls
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk

Tee: Target
Skirt: H & M
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Target
Belt: Apt. 9, Kohl's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Top: J. C. Penney's
Jeans: J. C. Penney's
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: DSW
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

Puns get enough of a bad rap without having to bear the indignity of being explained.  So, I wish I could say that "I can bead a rainbow" comes from "I can read a rainbow" from the well-known and much-loved children's program "Reading Rainbow" instead of from "I can sing a rainbow," which is a song I learned in preschool.  A preschool, incidentally, that was called READ.  But things are seldom that simple.  Nevertheless, my love for jewelry making and staging is so strong that no pun or wordplay is too precious.  Not unlike Lauren Shockey's love of cooking as relayed in her memoir Four Kitchens.  Although maybe minus the precious, professional kitchens being mostly macho.

It's a tale as old as time, really.  Office worker on the fast track to carpal tunnel syndrome (her words, not mine) chucks it all to cook her way around the world as an indentured servant.  But not before horrifying her parents and making a $40,000 pit stop at Soho's French Culinary Institute.  As this is a true story and not a sitcom or rom com, one can't help but wonder: Why?  For the same reason all those made-up heroines do it: to follow her heart (insert retching at the sound of my own schmaltziness.)  Just listen as she waxes poetic about a carrot:

"I wanted to cook because of the calmness that washes over me when I peel the ruddy outer layer of a carrot.  As the blade emits soft grating sounds and then strips of nearly translucent flesh fall into the garbage can, I contemplate the range of possibilities at hand.  I can shred the carrot and transform it into a salad; I can chop it in chunks and boil it in salted water; I can leave it whole, rubbed in Moroccan spices, and grill it until carmelized; I can cut it in pieces, dip it and saute it in a wok with sesame oil; or I can eat it plain and simple.  I can follow any number of carrot recipes, or I can invent my own recipe on the spot.  With cooking, the opportunities for creativity are boundless." (2-3)

Although I'm far from a foodie, I instantly understood what Shockey (so formal, this use of the last name -- we're all friends here, so let's stick with Lauren) meant.  Because it's the same way I feel about fashion.  She's talking about the energy, excitement, and rush that come from infinitely mixing a bunch of cool stuff -- regardless of the medium -- to come up with something even cooler.  So, it was in this spirit that I joined her on her journey.  She became an apprentice (or, to be more accurate, and indeed, more French, "stagiare") at some of the finest restaurants in her native New York City, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris.  Her experiences in each city are different but universally grueling.  She works fourteen-hour days deshelling crates of crabs and cross-hatching endive and washing floors, all for no pay and often under the watchful and critical eye of a snarky superior.  Although it's something I'd never do, her grit and enthusiasm are infectious, making me (vicariously) care about perfectly plating trout threads and crispy cream cheese (a dish that sounds, if not tasty, then exotically beautiful).  It's one of those stories about (at the risk of more retching) self exploration and discovery.  So, definitely not a romantic comedy.  Although there are a couple of contenders for the role of boyfriend, none ever flourish like her foie gras, a sure marker of nonfiction if ever there was one.  That is, Four Kitchens manipulates no plot lines into contriving a conventional two-by-two happy ending.  No, this time the only love affair is with the food.  Lauren sacrifices more for it than many women would for a lover -- financial security, familiarity, free time, and, to an extent, personal safety.  But, like most affairs, it's destined to come to an end.  


Although I don't flatter myself that this blurb is so good that you simply must order your copy of Four Kitchens from Amazon this very minute, manners are manners.  For those of you soldiering on, Lauren decides not to work in a restaurant after all.  Not because she's soured out on cooking, but because she's lukewarm about preparing food for a living.  She cares about cooking too much to allow it to become compromised by the baser motive of turning a profit.  She wants to savor the culinary experience, not rush through it; she wants to watch people enjoying her meals instead of being tucked away in an anonymous kitchen:  

"Although restaurant cooking is great for learning how to perfect dishes and to maximize speed and efficiency, the repetition of professional cooking can be, well, repetitive.  What I loved about cooking was discovering new ingredients and combining flavors.  Home cooking brings spontaneity and whimsy and the freedom to cook according to your own desires . . . So what if it took going around the world to realize I wanted to end up at home, in my own kitchen?  I discovered what I loved; cooking for my friends and family and sharing the bounty of the table together.  And the friends I made along the way taught me that home can be anywhere, and so can your home kitchen.  It's those you share it with who really matter." (328-331)

Aw.  Now, that does sound like the look-what-I-learned voice-over narrating the final scene of an indie flick.  Which tastes just about right to me.  What can I say?  Pass the popcorn.